I think the crux of what I am getting at is two things:

1) my personal frustration that I functionally have in-laws but absolutely no way to process the nonsense that comes up through having in-laws, because the idea’s basically absent from the set of rules that structure my relationship

2) if you’re gonna come up with an alternative form of kinship, and frame it as specifically kinship and not other kinds of filliation, there should be rules, because kinship isn’t just feelings, it’s a set of rules and prescribed obligations, by definition; and if you’re gonna frame it as more ethical, you actually need to come up with an ethical framework

nemesissy:

an argument: like a lot of things that are born out of the slurry of polyamory discourse, or popularised through that, the idea of chosen family is incredibly weak and full of gaping holes when it comes to ethical obligations

so, like, if you marry someone, it’s socially sanctioned, even, to not like their family, but your continued occasional need to associate with them is partly accounted for because kinship is explicitly transitive. like, there are a lot of very important relationships that are not accounted for- professional/artistic mentor, best friends, exes who you are still friendly with- but, at least, blood and legal relatives are presumed to be your kin, now, too, by virtue of this other person being kin. you don’t have to like them, but you have to have them in your life.

now, the chosen family model, as I see it get used, includes the presumption that most major relationships in your life are exactly that, chosen, not, like, what comes with being socially entwined with a person who lives an autonomous life. in gay circles, it’s extremely normal to not like family because they’re homophobic or abusive. but, like, to the extent the concept of chosen family abuts polyamory discourse, there’s this creeping idea that you should be unambivalent or positive about these other relationships, but, simultaneously, there’s no counter-discourse about what your obligations of care are to these people, or your loved one’s chosen family (and this is doubly true of people who are classic chosen family and not romantic partners).

like, to some extent a lot of the traditional ethics of dealing with blood kin are ported in, but there are lots of cases I can think of where it gets messy. let’s say your best friend in the world is someone you count as kin. do your other friends who you consider kin have the same obligations to them as friends of friends (none), or, like, your immediate relatives (some to considerable)? by being basically kin with someone, is that relationship transitive, and thus are your best friend’s other best friends also kin?

what about exes who are basically family (through feelings but also shared obligations)? do you have a duty to these people if you saw them be terrible dicks to your friend? what if someone clearly doesn’t like you, but is central to the life of someone you love- should you have a maximal hands-off attitude towards them in order to respect their boundaries, or should you use the person you love as a conduit for aid?

polyamory is deeply busted when it comes to the obligations you have to the person someone loves through your love for them; this is notoriously sticky, most polyamory problems are about these ethical obligations or about the kinds of affect you ~ought~ to have to these people who you have an undefined transitive relationship to. like, we’re all supposed to figure this out ourselves, so there’s nothing like a standard, and thus no way to assess whether something is going very wrong, or a protocol for handling that.

an argument: like a lot of things that are born out of the slurry of polyamory discourse, or popularised through that, the idea of chosen family is incredibly weak and full of gaping holes when it comes to ethical obligations